Friday, June 29, 2012

WFD Friday

We are still in use it up mode here and cleaning out the refrigerator, freezer and pantry. My income is always lower in the summer time due to school being out and therefore I have to watch the pennies even closer than I do at other times of the year, so using up what we have on hand is one way to do that.

First on the menu is Macaroni and Cheese in the crock pot. 

I have several boxes of elbow macaroni on hand, but I also have two boxes of Great Value macaroni and cheese in the family size boxes. I bought these on clearance at one time for 25¢, but my family did not care for the cheese sauce in the pouch. So I set the cheese sauce pouch aside and I’m going to see if my daughter would like to sprinkle it on her popcorn sometime soon. So, rather than use up my good elbow macaroni, I decided to use the elbow macaroni in this box. 

I’m also using one can of evaporated milk from my pantry, which needs using up along with some generic Velveeta cheese, which I had on hand. 

Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese

1 box (8 ounce) elbow macaroni, cooked
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup of butter, melted
12 ounce can of evaporated milk
3 cups processed cheese (I had generic Velveeta on hand)
1 & 1/2 cups of milk

Stir that all together and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.

Next on the menu are Green Beans with Onions. I picked these fresh from the garden this morning and went ahead and broke them up and started them cooking early to avoid heating up the kitchen later. 

One thing I want to mention is if you have a green bean that wasn’t picked in time and has a tough outer shell, you can still use the beans inside the shell and cook those with your beans. We call them shelly beans. I can remember one time when I was growing up picking a whole batch of green beans from my grandfather’s garden. The beans did not get picked in time and ended up being tough, so we broke open the shells and used the beans only. You can see from my batch that I had a couple like that. 

I also made two gallons of Iced Tea, and will slice up some of the cucumbers from the garden. 

 What's for dinner at your house today?

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Free Fugal Books

Amazon is offering at least two free books on frugality today on Kindle. These free books are not free for very long and usually only for 24 hours, so if you want a copy of these, be sure to get them today. Remember, you do not need a Kindle to take advantage of these free books. Amazon has the Cloud Reader that allows you to read these books for free online.

The Art of Frugal: Feeding a Family on a Budget

Kaylee Cole provides an extensive review of frugal eating in the Art of Frugal: Eating. The average family spends the majority of the monthly budget on meals. Kaylee takes us through frugal tips which cover shopping at grocery stores, coupon use, gardening and much more to uncover and reveal methods to save money while feeding a family with quality food. Kaylee's approach is grounded in common sense and makes the challenging subject of frugal eating easy for the reader to digest. After reading this book you will be able to save more per month and provide yourself and your family with higher quality meals at home, work and school.

2012 Family Guide to Groceries under $250 a Month

 Melissa Burnell presents a 2012 Grocery guide for struggling students and families of all sizes and income ranges. The average family of 4 in the United States spends more than $700 a month on groceries alone. In the “2012 Family Guide to Groceries under $250 a Month" the author outlines how and where to cut grocery expenses to get spending under control while opening the consumers eyes to little known dirty manipulation tactics employed by retailers to seduce unsuspecting customers into spending sprees.

 Hope you enjoy these free books! :)

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Temperature 105

Temperature turned out to be 105 degrees today, which is on my back porch in the shade. As you can see, the temperature in the house is 77.5, which is much cooler.  

What is the temperature where you are today?

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

WFD: Wednesday & Thursday

I'm still in use it up mode here and cleaning out the refrigerator, freezer and pantry.

Wednesday we had spaghetti with garlic bread, and since we had so much leftover and it is hot here today, rather than make the Macaroni & Cheese I had planned, we are going to eat the spaghetti again today. So no cooking, which means I won't be heating up the house in this heat wave we are having.

To start off with, I cut up and sauteed onions and green peppers (from the garden) and added a can of diced tomatoes.

I didn't have any ground beef, but I did have two boxes of pizza veggies burgers (perfect), so I chopped those up and added those.

I also had a institutional sized can of spaghetti sauce, so I opened that up and used a lot of it for the sauce. At Sam's Club, the institutional sized cans of tomato, spaghetti, and pizza sauce are cheaper per ounce than buying smaller cans.

I can make several batches of spaghetti sauce with one of these big cans. I pour out enough for the meal I'm making and then fill small containers with the remainder, label and place in the freezer for another day.

For the garlic bread, I had a package of sub type rolls that I had left over from Italian Beef (perfect), so I used those up and made garlic bread out of them using my homemade garlic butter.

I actually forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but it looked jut like a plate of spaghetti with meat sauce with garlic bread on the side. It turned out pretty good considering it had veggie burgers in it, and It gives me a good feeling to know I'm "using up" stuff from my pantry and freezer.

What's for dinner at your house today?

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

15 Tips to Saving Money when Keeping Cool

15 Tips to Saving Money when Keeping Cool

The news and weather forecasters have been calling for some very hot weather across the country in the next few days. That means many people are going to be cranking up the air conditioning in an effort to try and stay cool, and that usually makes for higher electric bills in the summer. It is possible to keep cool while still trying to save on electric costs during the hot summer time. Listed below you will find my fifteen tips for keeping cool when the temperatures rise.

Take advantage of cooler weather: If the area where you live cools off in the evening, take advantage of this to cool off your entire house. Open windows and doors with screens to bring the inside temperature down and facilitate cross breezes. Put fans in the windows to pull cool air in and hot air out of the house.  In the morning, close up your house and draw blinds and drapes closed, so the house stays dark and cool. If you have blinds, close them or angle them upwards. That way, light is reflected up and into the room and direct rays of the sun are not let in. 

Remember that shade is a wonderful tool to use to keep heat to a minimum. Keep the sun from hitting your windows and doors. Curtains will help on the inside, but you can also use the Mylar covered auto sun shades to cover an outside window that is in direct sunlight during the heat of the day. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat entering the house by as much as 80%. Inexpensive bamboo shades that roll-up and down are another way to keep your doors shady. We have four bamboo shades on our back porch and we pull them down during the hottest parts of the day to keep the back of the house cooler. Trees can also be planted to provide shade to help keep your home cooler. 

Keep the air moving around inside. Fans are another tool you can use to keep your house cooler in the summer. Ceiling fans help to create breezes in the house during the day and night and can make an entire room feel cooler. High velocity vans are an easy way to move large amounts of air around a room efficiently, which also helps the air conditioner work more efficiently, so you can actually set the thermostat temperature higher than would be the case without the fans. Also, make sure you clean your air conditioning filters, so they will work more efficiently.

Close off rooms you are not using. If you’re not using a room, close the vents and the doors. Same goes for closets, storage rooms, and bathrooms. Also, close the door to the basement, and down any stairwells. Remember that heat rises while cold air falls, so if you have a basement and you have the door open, cold air from upstairs will actually fall down the stairs where you don’t need it.

Spend your time in the coolest area of the house. That may be a basement or a smaller room where the windows can catch a breeze or a window air conditioner has less space to cool, which makes that room cooler than larger rooms in the house. Basements are usually 10-15 degrees cooler than the upstairs part of the house. My sister’s house has a basement in it and when we visit there during the summer we spend a lot of time there because it is much cooler than the upstairs portion of her house.

Stay hydrated. Your body needs water to keep cool, so make sure you drink plenty of fluids even if you don't feel thirsty. Your body is designed to cool itself and if you stay hydrated, your body will do its job more efficiently than if you become dehydrated.  

Dress for the season. Go barefoot or wear sandals and keep the socks and tennis shoes for cooler weather. Wear lighter weight fabrics and shorts with a sleeveless shirt. Or consider wearing your swimsuit. One summer when I first lived on my own in a small house with no air conditioning, the weather was miserably hot. I stayed in my swimsuit when I was not working and would often take a cold shower and then go outside to dry off in the shade, which made the heat more bearable. Use the water hose or use a spray bottle of water to give yourself a spritz of cool water every once in a while. 

Minimize heat buildup inside the house. Do all that you can do in order to not add to the heat of the house during the day when temperatures are at their highest.  Ovens, computers, lamps, washers, dryers, and dishwashers can all act like mini-space heaters and can put out large amounts of heat in your rooms. Run appliances either late at night or early in the morning and not during the heat of the day.  Use electrical power strips to plug your electronic devices into, so you can turn off the switch when not in use because many electronics give off heat.

Turn off the lights. A traditional 60 watt incandescent bulb can heat a small room as much as five degrees in one hour while a 100 watts bulb can heat the room as much as 11 degrees in an hour. While CFL's are much better than traditional bulbs at heating up, they do still put off some heat, so turn them off when you don't need them.

One of the biggest contributors to indoor heat and humidity is cooking. Feel free to cook outside during the summer. I can remember many days cooking dinner outside with my Grandmother during the summer. She had a whole kitchen set up outside.  Use your gas or charcoal grill to cook outside and keep the heat out of your home.  If you do have to cook inside, Use small appliances like electric skillets and crock pots to your advantage; they maintain low temperatures well and release almost no heat into the kitchen.  Remember, air conditioners have to work harder to deal with the excess heat and humidity created by cooking indoors. If you’ve ever turned your oven on during a hot summer day then you know what I’m talking about.

Plan ahead and eat cooler meals to save energy.  Pay attention to the weather forecast and take advantage of the cooler days to prepare a few extra meals and stash them in the freezer. You can then cook that food in your microwave when faced with a hot spell rather than heating up the house with the oven. Eat foods such as salads, fruits, sandwiches, crackers and cheeses instead of heating up the house rather than cook a more traditional meal.  

Install a programmable thermostat. These devices regulate the temperature in your house automatically according to the schedule that you set. Thus, when you’re not home, it allows the heating or cooling to turn off for several hours, saving you on your energy bill. A programmable thermostat can easily cut your energy bill by 10 to 20%.

Check your home for air leaks. Most homes have some air leaks that make the job of keeping it cool in summer much harder. In the summertime, heat can leak into homes through cracks and openings around the house, and around window air conditioning units. Adding caulk, foam and weather stripping around doors, windows, and air conditioners can help to prevent these leaks. 

Use cold water to help stay cool. Run your wrists under a cold tap for five seconds, which will help your body to stay cool. Place a wet washcloth in a Ziploc baggie and stick it in the freezer. Pull it out when you feel hot and wipe your face and arms and hands off, which will make your feel cooler immediately. When I was growing up, we always took a few baggies of wet washcloths with us when we were going anywhere. 

Consider running a dehumidifier. Getting the humidity level in your house lower is like a magic bullet, which will allow you to raise the temperature on your air conditioning unit and thus save money. 

There you have it, my 15 tips to stay cool while still trying to save money in the process. Hopefully, when you open your electric bill this summer you will have a pleasant surprise. Remember, do what you can, with what you have, where you are, and stay cool this summer.

What tips do you have for saving money during the hot days of summer?

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012 to Infinity. 
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

Still cleaning out the fridge, freezer, and pantry here.

Today I used up some egg beaters I had and made scrambled eggs & cheese toasted sandwiches for breakfast.

Lunch consisted of pimento cheese sandwiches and cucumber slices.

Dinner is going to be a pasta salad. I have a lot of spaghetti on hand, so I used that to make it. I took my kitchen scissors to it after I cooked it and cut it up into smaller pieces. I added fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers from the garden, threw in some black olives, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and made a sauce with some ranch, evoo, and rice wine vinegar. I have it chilling it the fridge right now.

We have plenty of fruit on hand for dessert. Cantaloupe, watermelon, cherries, blueberries, and blackberries.

I made another gallon of tea, and mixed up another container of grape juice, so we have plenty of drinks as well.

Here is our menu for the week:

Menu Plan Monday
June 25, 2012 through July 1, 2012

Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs & Cheese Toasted Sandwiches
Lunch – Pimento Cheese Sandwiches, Cucumber Slices
Dinner – Pasta Salad with Vegetables

Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Pickles
Dinner – Salmon Patties, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Breakfast – Banana Pancakes with Peanut Butter Syrup

Lunch – Vegetable Beef Soup, Crackers
Dinner – Spaghetti, Cheesy Garlic French Bread

Breakfast – Oatmeal

Lunch – Egg Salad Sandwiches
Dinner – Macaroni and Cheese, Vegetable

Breakfast – Scrambled Eggs & Toast
Lunch – Chicken & Rice Soup, Crackers
Dinner – Home Made Pizza

Breakfast – Oatmeal
Lunch – Leftover Pizza

Dinner – Bean & Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice

Breakfast – Sausage, Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Lunch – Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Pickles
Dinner – Sausage Quiche, Vegetable

What are you eating today?

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Dinner

My family has another obligation tomorrow, which is Father's Day, and I wanted to do something special for my Dad, so I went ahead and made him his favorite dinner today for Father's Day. He loves homemade meatloaf, so I made a couple of those and gave him one and made mashed potatoes and homemade macaroni and cheese to go a long with it. Sorry, I didn't think to get a picture of the macaroni and cheese.  I also had a DVD set of the Dukes of Hazard, which we used to watch when I was growing up, so I gave that to him as well. He was happy with everything and sent me a text which said, "It was mighty good, thanks". He also requested a piece of the Peanut Butter Bars, which I made earlier in the week. I had one piece left, so it was perfect. :)

What are you doing for Father's Day this year?

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012. 
 “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without” 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What's for Dinner Thursday

 Tonight for dinner I am trying a new recipe for Twice Baked Cheeseburger Potatoes. The recipe sounded good to me, and easy to make, so I'm trying it. 

I've also made Shoepeg Salsa (a tried and true family favorite), which is a refreshing summer type salad. I had about 7 cans of black eyed peas, which this recipe calls for, in the pantry, so I figured it was a good time to make it. I didn't have shoepeg corn, so I substituted regular corn.

Twice Baked Cheeseburger Potatoes


4 large Russet potatoes
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground beef or turkey
1 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2/3 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash potatoes, drizzle with olive oil, roll in Kosher salt. Pierce several times with a fork and bake at 400 for 60-75 minutes, until you can stick a knife through them easily.
In the meantime, cook the ground beef. Mix with sour cream, onion powder, salt and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
When the potatoes are done, cut them in half and scoop out the insides, leaving enough around the edges so that they hold their shape. Mix the potato with the rest of the filling and then scoop it back into the potato shells.
Sprinkle them with more cheddar cheese and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Shoepeg Salsa

In a bowl combine:

2 cans (16 ounces each) black-eyed peas, drained
1 can (11 ounces) white shoepeg corn, drained
1 green pepper, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilies
3 or 4 green onions, chopped

5 Tablespoons oil (I used EVOO – you can add a mixture)
¼ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon Vegesal (or salt, garlic powder, and paprika)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon parsley flakes

You can add more seasoning according to your taste.
Serve with Tortilla Chips

What's for dinner at your house tonight?

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011. 
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without” 

Monday, June 11, 2012

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

Here is an easy to make dessert that won't heat up your kitchen in the summertime. I made a batch of these today since I had everything on hand. For the graham cracker crumbs, I used the Great Value brand of graham crackers and simply made crumbs out of them using my food processor, which is less expensive than buying graham cracker crumbs. 

Here is the recipe:

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup butter melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups powdered sugar 
 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons peanut butter
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, mix together the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners’ sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. 
Press evenly into the bottom of an 9×13 inch pan. 
In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the 4 tablespoons of peanut butter. 
Spread over the peanut butter/graham cracker mixture. 
Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares.

Here is what the finished product looks like:

These are a big hit with my family. I hope you enjoy them as well! :)

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011. 
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without” 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Master Grocery List

Sometimes people find managing the kitchen and meal planning to be a big challenge. Coming home after a long day of work and going in the kitchen to prepare the family dinner is not something people always have the time or energy to accomplish. Because of this many people have come to depend on fast food, restaurants, and convenience foods to deal with this challenge in order to feed their families. Foods like rotisserie chickens and inexpensive $5 pizzas help to make meal times easier, but oftentimes those convenience foods cost more money than food prepared at home. Families who rely on these foods too often can often find themselves with financial problems as a result of eating out too often.

Using resources wisely (time, money, food) is one area of my life that is important to me. Keeping a well-stocked pantry and meal planning are important tools towards this goal. Having meals planned out has always made my life so much easier during the times I’ve utilized this tool. Now, I do have days where I forget to take something out of the freezer or times when it seems like I am only able to plan meals on the spur of the moment. But the times when I have been organized in my meal planning have been the times when I felt the most at peace with myself, which in turn makes my household run smoother.

We already know that tools like the Pantry Principal and Meal Planning are useful tools in the kitchen. Another useful tool in the kitchen is the Master Grocery List, or as some people call it, pantry staples, specifically geared towards your family because having a well-stocked pantry is helpful for good kitchen management. It is difficult to create a list of pantry staples that would be beneficial for every family simply because we are all different. We live in different areas and have access to different resources, we have different dietary needs and honestly, we have different tastes. What things I like to eat may not be the same things that you like to eat. Therefore, it is important to create a Master Grocery List or Pantry Staples list that is unique to your family and the resources available to you in your area.

Having said all of that, I would like to share my Master Grocery List with you. Please keep in mind this list is specifically geared towards my family and therefore reflect choices that I make that I find beneficial to my family.

Master Grocery List

Tea Bags

Whole Wheat Bread
Hot Dog Buns
Hamburger Buns
French Bread

Canned Beans
Chili Beans
Kidney Beans
Pork and Beans
Refried Beans

Canned Foods
Beef & Chicken Broth
Enchilada Sauce
Green Beans
Green Peas
Hormel Ham
Petite Dice Tomatoes

Tartar Sauce
Soy Sauce
Parmesan Cheese
Worcestershire Sauce
Dill Pickle
Bread & Butter Pickles

Jarred Foods
Peanut Butter
Spaghetti Sauce
Strawberry Jelly

American Cheese
Cheddar Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Cottage Cheese
Sour Cream
Skim Milk

Dry Goods
Brown Sugar
Rice, Brown & White
Soup Beans
Pinto Beans
Elbow Macaroni
Lasagna Noodles
Instant Mashed Potatoes
Saltine Crackers

Frozen Foods
Cauliflower Blend
Veggie Burgers
Pie Crusts
Tator Tots

Chicken Breast
Ground Chuck
Hot Dogs
Italian Sausage
Pork Sausage
Round Streak
Sirloin Tip Roast
Rump Roast
Smoked Sausage

EVOO – Olive Oil
Vegetable Oil
Pam Spray


Snack Foods
Tortilla Chips (Used in Cooking)
Corn Chips

Beef Bouillon
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Italian Season
Onion Powder
Onion Soup Mix
Seasoned salt

© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2012. 
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without” 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Free Frugal Cookbook

Hello Frugal Workshop readers! 

I couldn't let this good deal pass by without letting you know about it. Amazon is offering a free frugal cookbook today for Kindle e-readers, but you don't even need a Kindle to read the book as you can read it right in Amazon's Cloud Reader. 

Here is a link to the book:

Hope you enjoy it! :)
© Belinda Richardson and Frugal Workshop, 2011. 
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without” 
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